One Dark Night by Gregory Harvey

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SUMMARY: A boarding school horror story.

Benjamin, Ben to his friends but never to his parents, was having troubles sleeping on the sixteenth night of October. Whereas usually he could simply shut his eyes and be on his way to a hundred different dreams, most of which would not involve the dreary boarding school he now found himself staying in, tonight had been different.

In short, his mind was working too fast. It sought to wrap itself around every piece of stray thought, squeezing and bending until Benjamin wasn't entirely sure his skull couldn't implode at any given second.

Last term of year twelve. The last term of his schooling. Next year he would be off to university. Living the life... enjoying himself! But, as he lay in bed, that time, where he would finally be able to leave home... where he would finally be able to be independent, was a long way off. He was already half way through the fourth term of year twelve. The last term. Yet, somehow that word didn't seem large enough. FINAL, occurred to Ben. This was the FINAL term. He was halfway through the FINAL term... and what had he done so far? Jack shit. That's what.

Over the holidays he had told himself he would ‘knuckle down' and ‘put in the effort'. His procrastination, however, had gotten the better of him. Now the assignments were beginning to pile up, something he had pledged would never happen again, the exams (the FINAL exams) were now visible on the horizon... and he wasn't sleeping well for the first time in his short seventeen years of life.

He sat up in bed. Surely there must be something he could do so that he would sleep better? Adjust the fans...? No... that hadn't worked an hour ago. In fact, what time was it, now? Ben reached down for his mobile phone, tucked underneath his mattress, and swung it up to his face. 00:28 it proclaimed. Was that all? Ben felt he had been awake for days.

Ben watched as the only barrier between his room and the aisle way, a slim curtain which let far too much light through, billowed outwards from the gust of wind spilling through his window. It was as dark as ever in the aisle way. So dark, in fact, that Benjamin could scarcely see the entrance to the room next door. Barry's room. An old-fashioned name, Ben had always thought, and completely unsuited to the gothic who owned it.

Benjamin decided that it may be breeze that was keeping him awake. There was no real logic behind the decision, but trial and error still held some merit. He got out of bed and moved the twelve inches to the window, which was standing wide open. As per usual Ben's eyes wondered outside for a moment. The courtyard was much as it always had been. It was adorned by a small pond in the centre which held, at its middle, a statue of the Virgin Mary. Lights, placed on the roof of the surrounding school buildings, flooded over the statue, which was facing northwards, towards the top of the school.

Somehow disappointed with the ordinary view, Ben went to close his window, only to find that it wouldn't budge. He tried again, with harder force this time.

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